Movies like What’s Your Number? seem to exist for one reason: to turn critics into feminists, leaping to the defense of actresses everywhere. Much like with other harpy trash(usually starring Kate Hudson), the film would have you believe that all women are ruled by the three inch blurbs read in some magazine. Formulaic romantic comedies are the usual outlet for movies such as this, and it makes sense to a degree because the targeted audience wants to see a character with a more insane life than their own. That’s fine. Nobody walks into What’s Your Number? expecting to see a cinematic tour de force. What they also likely aren’t expecting is to see two comedic heavyweights like Anna Faris and Chris Evans flush their talents down the toilet.
Faris doesn’t always make the wisest choices when it comes to what movies she headlines, but did anyone think something like The House Bunny would be watchable? It’s only because of her that it was, so there’s the expectation Faris can always pull something like that off. Um, no. She plays Boston girl Ally Darling, and it’s been one monster of a day. Not only has she been laid off from her boring marketing job, but she’s also been told in no uncertain terms that she’s a slut. At least that’s what Ally makes of a Marie Claire article claiming the 19 men she’s slept with(*GASP*) is too many for any respectable woman hoping to get married. Instead of doing the correct thing and wondering if the author was some sort of cave dweller, Ally instead freaks out and goes off on a journey to find out of any of her old flames has turned into a gentleman. That way she can get some and not increase her number.
She does this with the aid of her neighbor, Colin(Evans), son of a policeman with connections when it comes to finding people. Colin is a player, we can tell early on because we only see him with his shirt off(for you, ladies) and a towel around his waist. Also there’s a different woman exiting his apartment every day, which for some reason rubs Ally the wrong way. Odd, considering her own perceived promiscuity. The two strike a deal, he’ll help find her old boyfriends if he can use her apartment to hide in.What? He’s a hot guy with commitment issues? Surely you jest. Never seen that before.
Right from the start it’s obvious where this is going. Ally meets with a number of her past flame outs, and finds reasons to be jealous them all in some way. There’s the guy she used to refer to as Disgusting Donald(Faris’ real life hubby Chris Pratt), now thin and engaged to a rocket scientist with supermodel looks. Tom(Anthony Mackie), Ally’s college love, now in D.C. and angling for a senatorial run. All the while Ally longs for the one who really got away, her first love Jake Adams, elusive son of a billionaire. If you guess that Jake will turn up at the most inconvenient of times romantically, then clearly you’re a veteran of these wars, too. Fancy meeting you here.
There’s so much wasted talent here that it’s almost criminal. Chris Evans has squandered all that love he gained as Captain America, but women will be happy to note the six pack abs are still intact. Colin is an analogue of what women who adore these rom-coms want to see. He’s unavailable, hunky, and dying to be reprogrammed by whatever lady can win him over. What few good moments he’s given tend to involve Mexican wrestling, and have nothing to do with his chemistry with Faris. In a weird twist, the best running gag involves Faris constantly crashing into Disgusting Donald no matter where he goes to get away from her. Let’s not even discuss the wasted use of the always amazing Ari Graynor(Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist), stripped of her funnybone(and given a bad hairdo) in a thankless role as Ally’s soon-to-be married sister.
Remember Bridesmaids? There is a clever way of presenting strong, funny, single women on screen. Unfortunately the lousy script by TV writers Jennifer Crittenden(Seinfeld) and Gabrielle Allen appears to have been drafted as an episode of some long shelved sitcom. We’re never given a reason to like anybody in this movie. She’s ignorant, frequently self-centered, and way too superficial to be taken seriously. Colin….well, he plays guitar. That’s supposed to be enough, apparently.
What’s Your Number? is rated ‘R’, but other than one far away shot of Joel McHale’s butt crack there’s little reason for concern. This is one toothless comedy, far beneath it’s cast.